Do All Dentists Require Payment Upfront for Treatment?

Most providers went to dental school to learn how to treat problems with patients’ teeth and gums, not how to run a credit and collections operation.

Therefore, most dentists will ask for payment upfront before commencing treatment unless you can minimize the risk of future default in one of three ways.

First, an insurance company with a contractual obligation to honor claims after treatment can mitigate potential losses.

Second, many treatments occur in stages spanning years (implants and braces), allowing patients to make partial payments over time.

Third, third-party finance companies provide funding in advance, allowing patients to make monthly installments that fit their budget.

When Dentists Require Payment Upfront

Most dentists ask patients to pay upfront for treatment when they fear getting nothing in return for the services rendered. Unfortunately, a few bad apples that do not pay their bills ruin things for everybody else.

Dental Implants

Most patients do not have to pay the entire cost of dental implants in advance because multiple treatment steps spread over time require healing in between each stage.

Dental implant payment plans are a natural offshoot of the lengthy multi-phase process. Patients can break up the expenses into more digestible bites corresponding to five common steps with months for healing.

StepServiceMonths to Heal
1Tooth Extractions1 to 4
2Bone Grafting4 to 12
3Body Placement4 to 6
4Abutment Insertion1 to 2
5Denture PlacementN/A

Emergency Treatment

Depending on whether you have insurance covering the urgent care, you might have to pay upfront for your emergency dental treatment. Providers are more lenient when dealing with a party they can trust.

Emergency dentists who accept patients without insurance require payment before commencing treatment often because they probably have no history with the individual or family. Trusting someone you just met is hard, especially when time is short.

Medical insurance covers emergency dental work caused by non-biting accidents such as broken or dislodged teeth requiring extraction. Therefore, the provider trusts that the issuing company will honor the claims and might only ask for a small copayment.

With Insurance

Many dentists will ask for partial payment in advance from patients with dental insurance because every plan includes cost-sharing features the member is responsible for covering. Therefore, be prepared to fork over amounts based on these particulars in your policy.

  • Annual maximum: the yearly limit paid by the plan, leaving members to fund 100% when incurring expenses above the stated figure
  • Annual deductible: the yearly amount funded by the member before the plan begins honoring claims
  • Coinsurance: the percentage of the allowed charges owed by the member after the plan pays the claim, which might read as follows
    • Preventive: 0%
    • Routine: 20%
    • Major: 50%

Dentists can charge more than insurance allows when they do not participate in your plan’s network. Therefore, expect to advance even more money if you choose an out-of-network provider.

How Financing Pays Dentists Upfront

Believe it or not, most dentists with financing require patients to pay upfront before commencing treatment. In this case, a third party provides the funding to the provider and bills the individual later in installments.

Would you ask your local bank branch if they perform root canals? Of course, that would be silly. Why would a dentist issue credit?

Bad Credit

All dentists with just a smidgeon of common sense require full payment in advance from patients with bad credit because a history of delinquency, charge-offs, repossessions, and bankruptcy suggests the person will do it again.

No credit check dental financing might provide the funding from a third party to get treatment started if you have an adverse history on your consumer report. Online companies specialize in sub-prime borrowers, and your Flexible Spending Account at work offers the ideal financing option for all consumers.

Payment Plans

Most dentists offering payment plans receive money upfront for 100% of the projected procedure costs from a third-party financing company. They rarely bill patients later in installments, as many people mistakenly assume – with one possible exception.

Remember, dentists are trained to address your oral health and have little expertise in running a credit and collections department. Therefore, they outsource the function in most cases.

Veneer payment plans typically require an outside financing company because the cosmetic procedure takes just a handful of visits over weeks. Plus, insurance rarely covers them.

  1. Initial consultation
  2. Remove excess enamel and take impressions
  3. Bond the veneer to your teeth using resin

Payment plans for braces are sometimes offered by the orthodontist (rather than a financing company) because treatment spans years with the installation, adjustments, and removal of the appliances, plus the retainer. Plus, insurance sometimes covers orthodontia.